Mantas Kalnietis received interest from several NBA teams this offseason and could be headed overseas. More likely next year, his agent says.
The 27-year-old point guard tried his luck in NBA Draft back in 2008 but went undrafted. After spending two seasons in Russia with Lokomotiv Kuban, Kalnietis feels he is prepared to make the move to the NBA.
Kalnietis who is known for his athletic abilities suits the NBA game. He made himself available for the NBA teams this summer and was quickly invited by the Brooklyn Nets to the free agents camp.
The Nets were rather impressed by his performance, few other teams expressed their interest as well. Kalnietis’ agent Tadas Bulotas revealed that Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks are among the teams interested.
Currently Kalnietis is in Portland working out for the Blazers. He was also invited by the Nets to the Orlando Summer League but is most likely to skip it, according to his agent.
“They [NBA teams] will have the chance to see Mantas play not 15 but 30 minutes or even more per game in FIBA Basketball World Cup against the world’s best players”, Bulotas explained.
Kalnietis is under contract with Lokomotiv Kuban for next season, therefore, any NBA team interested in his services would have to negotiate a buy-out with Kalnietis’ current employees first.
Andrey Vedishev, President of Lokomotiv Kuban, told the Russian media that he is prepared to listen to any offers from the NBA. The club would look to earn from the deal, however, Vedishev wasn’t completely satisfied with Kalnietis performance this season and wouldn’t try to keep him at any cost.
“In my opinion, this wasn’t Mantas’ best season. He was more stable last season, more efficient. He had a few outstanding games, yet with certain number of mistakes. A point guard should be more careful with the ball, shouldn’t allow that many losses. Mantas is a great talent, but you need to stop him at the right time, tell him how to play. For me it looked like he fall into some functional trap after his successful season in European championship. It is hard to find the reasons why that happened, but he is still one of the strongest guards in Europe”, Vedishev told to the club’s website.
Kalnietis averaged 9.4 points and 4.8 assists per game in 24 outings in Lokomotiv’s debut season in Euroleague.
Last summer Kalnietis’ teammate Nick Clathes left Lokomotiv to join Memphis Grizzlies.